The world is full of people with great ideas – ideas that make the world better, fairer, more sustainable. But everyone has its doubts:
Surely someone had this idea already.
I have never done anything like this before.
No one is there to support me and I don’t have the money.
I had the same thoughts six months ago. I was concerned by the tremendous waste generation through disposable packaging but I had no idea what a solution could be, not to mention how to implement it.
But then there were people willing to support me, empower me, teach me how to change the world: yooweedoo and the team behind it. With their help, my friend and I learned how an idea can become real. We participated in the yooweedoo’s Changemaker MOOC dealing with all relevant aspects of planning a social enterprise project. Later, we won the yooweedoo idea contest that supports all winners with up to 2000 Euro as seed capital and now we really implement our idea in Kiel, Germany. Also and especially now, as we realize that more obstacles are awaiting us, we receive assistance through events and a network of entrepreneurs and experts, mainly based in Kiel.
One of the highlights within our process took place a few days ago. All 31 teams funded by the idea contest were invited to a Summer Camp on Sylt, a lovely, if not in fact the most beautiful island of Germany. If I had to describe the Summer Camp in three words, without hesitation I would say: inspiration, motivation and fun. They were such days that you precisely remember months later. A combination of discussions with companions, talks and presentations from experts and morning swims with friends.
The first day according to the motto “successful stories” gave us an insight of how an entrepreneur’s world looks like. We listened to talks of Quartiermeister, a social beer brand from Berlin, or Goldeimer, a compost toilet provider for festivals.
The second day provided impulses for organizing projects successfully – dealing with more or less interesting but always important issues. How to do social marketing, what legal form does the project need and how to raise money with crowdfunding? Next to the public talks, all experts took their time to answer every individual question privately.
So, I came back to Kiel realizing that connections to fellow entrepreneurs and specialists are essential. Through on-going input you receive many more ideas, review your concept and experience support. The Summer Camp weekend was a very good beginning. Nevertheless, what I wish for is a constant exchange and encouragement to ensure entrepreneurial success. How do other projects look within the field of waste avoidance? What barriers do they have to face? What advises can they give me?
I believe that by bundling international know-how and experiences, future and present social entrepreneurs might boost their social impact to another level. By connecting social entrepreneurs internationally everyone would gain strength and realize that we are fighting for corresponding ideals. That’s why I closely observe the work of the SETTLE project, which aims to build an open European-wide online learning platform that puts emphasis on informal, non-formal and collaborative learning.
I can only encourage everyone to realize their ideas, no matter how crazy or impossible they initially seem. You will find many people on your way that will support you and that hopefully you will support, too.
by Christina Lehmann, CAU University, Kiel, Germany